Photo: Flickr / Mahinda Rajapaksa
Photo: Flickr / Mahinda Rajapaksa

Whither Lankan spring?

What the Rajapaksa comeback spells for democracy in Sri Lanka.

Six months ago, Sri Lanka stunned the world, and itself, by unseating the country's neo-monarchical president without firing a single shot, by voting out Mahinda Rajapaksa in the democratic presidential elections. Barely seven months later, however, as the country heads to the parliamentary polls set for 17 August, the contest appears to be revisiting the same playing field with the same players, which many had hoped had been put behind them.

On 8 January 2015, Sri Lankans turned out in unprecedented numbers to vote in a premature presidential election called by Mahinda Rajapaksa, who, together with his brothers had ruled the country with an iron fist for over nine years. As the initial results began to trickle in, indicating a clear victory for the joint opposition and its candidate Maithripala Sirisena, wild rumours about an impending Rajapaksa coup began to circulate. The possibility that the Rajapaksas would depart peacefully seemed unthinkable, to foes and friends alike.

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Himal Southasian